Today in History

Today is Saturday, Feb. 14, the 45th day of 2015. There are 320 days left in the year. This is Valentine’s Day.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 14, 1929, the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” took place in a Chicago garage as seven rivals of Al Capone’s gang were gunned down.

On this date:

In 1778, the American ship Ranger carried the recently adopted Stars and Stripes to a foreign port for the first time as it arrived in France.

In 1859, Oregon was admitted to the Union as the 33rd state.

In 1895, Oscar Wilde’s final play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” opened at the St. James’s Theatre in London.

In 1903, the Department of Commerce and Labor was established. (It was divided into separate departments of Commerce and Labor in 1913.)

In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state of the Union as President William Howard Taft signed a proclamation.

In 1924, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. of New York was formally renamed International Business Machines Corp., or IBM.

In 1945, during World War II, British and Canadian forces reached the Rhine River in Germany.

In 1962, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy conducted a televised tour of the White House in a videotaped special that was broadcast on CBS and NBC (and several nights later on ABC).

In 1975, Anglo-American author P.G. Wodehouse, 93, died in Southampton, New York.

In 1985, Cable News Network reporter Jeremy Levin, held hostage by extremists in Lebanon, escaped from his captors. Whitney Houston’s debut album, eponymously titled “Whitney Houston,” was released by Arista Records.

In 1989, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini called on Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of “The Satanic Verses,” a novel condemned as blasphemous.

In 2013, Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius was charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his home in South Africa; he was later convicted of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in jail.

Ten years ago: Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (rah-FEEK’ hah-REER’-ee) was assassinated with explosives. A gas explosion inside a Chinese mine killed 214 people. President George W. Bush said he would nominate Lester M. Crawford as head of the Food and Drug Administration, a position Crawford had held as acting commissioner for nearly a year. The creators of the video-sharing website YouTube activated its domain name, www.youtube.com (the site uploaded its first video the following April.)

Five years ago: The Americans broke through the Nordic combined barrier at Vancouver as Johnny Spillane won the silver, the first U.S. Olympic medal in the sport dominated since its inception by the Europeans (Jason Lamy Chappuis of France won the gold). Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500. The Eastern Conference edged the West 141-139 in the NBA All-Star game in Arlington, Texas. Larry Ellison’s space-age trimaran completed a two-race sweep in the 33rd America’s Cup. Death claimed best-selling British author Dick Francis at age 89 and Doug Fieger, leader of the power pop band The Knack, at age 57.

One year ago: Drawing a link between climate change and California’s drought, President Barack Obama said the U.S. had to stop thinking of water as a “zero-sum” game and needed to do a better job of figuring out how to make sure everyone’s water needs were satisfied. An attempt by the United Auto Workers to organize employees at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, fell short in a 712-626 vote. At the Sochi Olympics, Sandro Viletta won the super-combined while fellow Swiss Dario Cologna won the 15K race. In figure skating, 19-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan claimed the men’s title. Jim Fregosi, a former All-Star who’d won more than 1,000 games as a manager for four teams, died in Miami at age 71. Puppeteer John Henson, the son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson, died in New York at age 48.

Today’s Birthdays: TV personality Hugh Downs is 94. Actress-singer Florence Henderson is 81. Actor Andrew Prine is 79. Country singer Razzy Bailey is 76. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is 73. Jazz musician Maceo Parker is 72. Movie director Alan Parker is 71. Journalist Carl Bernstein is 71. Former Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., is 68. TV personality Pat O’Brien is 67. Magician Teller (Penn and Teller) is 67. Cajun singer-musician Michael Doucet (doo-SAY’) (Beausoleil) is 64. Actor Ken Wahl is 58. Opera singer Renee Fleming is 56. Actress Meg Tilly is 55. Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly is 55. Singer-producer Dwayne Wiggins is 54. Actress Sakina Jaffey (TV: “House of Cards”) is 53. Actor Enrico Colantoni is 52. Actor Zach Galligan is 51. Actor Valente Rodriguez is 51. Rock musician Ricky Wolking (The Nixons) is 49. Tennis player Manuela Maleeva is 48. Actor Simon Pegg is 45. Rock musician Kevin Baldes (Lit) is 43. Rock singer Rob Thomas (Matchbox Twenty) is 43. Actor Matt Barr is 31. Actor Jake Lacy is 29. Actress Tiffany Thornton is 29. Actor Freddie Highmore is 23.

Thought for Today: “To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.” – P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975).

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